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Golden Guernsey Dairy closes doors unexpectedly

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WAUKESHA -- Golden Guernsey Dairy -- a major Wisconsin dairy production facility suddenly shut down -- leaving no milk for kids and no answers for workers. Workers say they don't know whether they are officially unemployed, as bosses won't return their calls.

For 33 years, Daryl Etzler has worked inside the Golden Guernsey Dairy plant in Waukesha -- and was not expecting Saturday, January 5th to be his last. 

"They said they're closing the doors. Everybody had grouped up for a small meeting, and all they got was an email saying 'immediately close the plant. Operations are done,'" Etzler said.

Etzler says without explanation or paperwork, he was escorted out of the plant. A day later, about two dozen of the approximately 100 employees who work at the plant gathered, hoping for some information. 

As of Sunday, the gate is locked and guarded by security workers. No one was allowed in, and no one was answering questions.

"I haven't heard a word from the company.  25 years in and there are guys here with a lot more seniority than me, didn't even merit a phone call.  Not an email or a text message.  Nothing," one plant worker said.

In Elkhorn, Chris Olsen's trailers sat empty on Sunday. The milk distributor has heard from plant officials, who told him to look elsewhere. 

Now, Olsen is scrambling to find milk out of state, which he plans to pick up on Monday to send to kids in Milwaukee, Kenosha and Racine school districts.

"The entire upper Midwest dairy industry is just reeling from this," Olsen said.

Golden Guernsey Dairy is owned by an investment company in California. Less than two years ago, the previous owners, Dean Foods, were forced to sell after Wisconsin's Attorney General feared the company had a monopoly on Wisconsin's milk market. The state of Wisconsin, the U.S. Department of Justice and the state of Illinois and Michigan sued in federal court. 

It is a lawsuit workers believe let an unreliable company purchase the plant and shut it down. 

"Everybody here is just flabbergasted. How can they do this?" Etzler said.

The company's owner, Open Gate Capitol and the plant's managers have not returned calls from FOX6 News.

The Wisconsin DOJ has no comment at this time.